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Posts Tagged ‘congress’

This is rather toothless in terms of action.  Reeks planning to pour oil into an engine with a cracked block every time you fill up.

While President Obama is focused on getting money to friendly-ish Syrian rebels, Congress is increasingly demanding he take more steps to stop militant fighters from coming to the U.S. by stripping Americans of their passports if they join the fight and by suspending countries that have large contingents of foreign fighters from the Visa Waiver Program.

What about stopping the porous borders?  Perhaps opting for security takes a back seat to ensuring an easy voting bloc.  That’s sad.
But counterterrorism officials say they are far more concerned that an ISIS militant will enter the United States the same way millions of people do each year: legally, on a commercial flight. Their efforts have focused on the more than 2,000 Europeans and 100 Americans who have traveled to Syria to fight alongside extremist groups, nearly all of them crossing over its unprotected borders. Without markings in their passports to show that they traveled to Syria, American border authorities have few ways of determining where they were and stopping them from entering the country.
And if they come here across the Mexican border authorities will have nearly 100% certainty of checking those visas to see if terrorists went to Syria.  Good call, guys.  Good call.

That’s all I can write, this whole scenario is making me nauseous.

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Temporary Post

This was to be a placeholder post until tonight when I posted something real.  But it’ll have to be real enough.  Suddenly a huge storm blew up and is headed for us and I’m shutting my computer down very soon, so have a good evening…

 

As congress-critters sit and bitch to their bosses (us) about how the other side is causing all the trouble it becomes ever more obvious that even still none of them are interested in fixing the problem.

They are all still far more interested in who maintains power as of the next election than they are about enacting something that is binding and rooted in reality.

How do we know this?

Because they are again talking about “compromise”.  Which is a load of BS.  When a patient is dying of a gangrenous limb you do not compromise and cut right through the middle of the infection – you cut off the limb, and you take enough to be sure you got it all.   There are some issues where two viable sides don’t exist, and any decision made that doesn’t include drastic binding cuts is completely non-viable.

When you have spent yourself into a huge debt you do NOTHING to incur more.  And you cut and cut and cut until you can’t cut any more, then you cut again for good measure because the first time you probably pulled the punch.  And then you are man enough to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

We’ve been waiting for decades for elected officials to address the entitlements issue, which is what is going to strangle us.  I’m seeing precious little evidence that they believe this is the critical moment it really is.

Their behavior is similar to what you could imagine if an ENTIRE chapter of the local AA fell off the wagon at the same time.  All of them hopelessly addicted to the power and money, all of them in partial-to-total denial, and all of them on some level simultaneously pointing fingers and covering up for each other.

And I’m bothered by the press releases, too.  Both sides.

A perfect example of the unprofessional non-serious behavior is Jay Carney trying to be hip.   This isn’t NFL where you get to use lots of euphemisms and metaphors.  Americans are sick to DEATH of speech that isn’t just pure hard facts devoid of fluff and rhetoric.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney rejected charges that Obama hadn’t revealed an actual plan to solve the debt crisis.

“We have shown a lot of leg on what we were proposing,” Carney said.

Shown a lot of leg?  Carney is essentially the president’s top communications guy and he cannot use proper english to make his point?
Time to grow up, Congress.  Stop being righteously indignant (it is the taxpayer’s turn for that) and get your sh*t together – do whatever you have to do but do it, do it responsibly (for once), and damn well do it now.

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If you voted for Obama and if you voted for a Democratic senator to your state, I’m going to clear my throat and voice something I don’t usually voice in so many words:

SCREW YOU.

I’m not at all happy with Congress’ health care bill, a vote of cloture, and a vote at 1am Monday morning.  Malkin has lots of good information posted.

I tried calling my senator’s offices.  Guess what?  Conveniently you can’t leave a message and no one is answering on a weekend.  That shouldn’t be a surprise.

What should be a surprise to some gullible people is that the president and his party – those who so passionately champion transparency, have been and are doing every thing that they can to ensure that they pass this bill in a stealthy fashion

So get ready folks!  Get ready for the ushering in of the Reid-Baucus-Dodd-Harkin amendment #2376.

I’ve left e:mails and voice mails, reminding them that they can vote as they wish but there will be a backlash this fall.  Wherever a seat is up for grabs in Congress, they ought not get too comfortable.  Those who have a little while to go yet, they should also be aware that memories for some are long.

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Ok, here is Another Rant About Our Taxes.

In the art world, money flows freely from public funds without your knowledge.  Picture states A-E.  Each state has a varying number of people that pay taxes.  Of those taxes, they go to a person or multiple people who are artists or very close to them who dole out the money.  Often their values are radically different from the taxpayers.  That money then goes to still other artists in each state (blue) who get it without the knowledge of the people in other states (unless they are art lovers themselves).

Taxing for Art - Now

Now, lets look at the “local” model, as it should be.  Note how the people really responded to the art in question.

Taxing for Art - Should Be

See the difference?  TAX money to those artists can ONLY come from within the state they live.  Now those other people in their state are the ones scrutinizing those funds and their uses.  It could be from tax money but it could also be free market.

In State A, only one person thought that was a worthwhile use of their money – maybe, and there is some accountability, shown by the question mark.

In State B, several people felt the same way.

In State C, people found that the artist in question was a pervert/pedophile and he was treated as he should have been, a pariah.

In State D, there was one person that was cautiously supportive but others didn’t care for the art and chose not to support it.

In State E, lots of people bought art directly with varying degrees of value placed on the works of art.

IT IS CAPITALISM, NOT FEDERALLY DISBURSED LARGESSE THAT SHOULD DRIVE DEMAND.

Most of us don’t care about art enough to want our taxes going to pay for something we don’t even consider art.

Why should a select group decide that art is vitally important and then run the whole show?

My values run more towards fiscal responsibility, not handouts to those who could not survive if their art was rated on it’s own merits.

Art won’t die if federal funds dry up, there will just be a whole lot less really crappy art.

As a parting shot, here are some of the funded arts in that link above…

  • $400,000 for an exhibition “exploring the importance of plants as a source of inspiration for noted American poet Emily Dickinson” [You. Must. Be.  Joking.]
  • $350,000 to explore the “cultural significance of the circus poster”  [Over a quarter million dollars to answer a question that has no answer?]
  • $725,000 to produce a two-hour documentary on the history of American whaling.  [I can look that up in the library, thanks.  Three quarters of a million dollars to make a video of a lot of old photographs.  Yeaaaaaaahhhhh.  Right.]
  • $130,000 for 16 professors to study the “truth and meaning” of life according to Aristotle [Mental masturbation.]
  • $50,000 to build a computer model of an ancient city in Pakistan complete with “animated and interactive ‘inhabitants'” [I. Don’t. Care.]

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I blogged it last night but I’m showing the Bugatti Veyron again because I can and I want to.  Clarkson, you are one lucky bastard to have driven this.

Bugatti-Veyron_2005_800x600_wallpaper_03

What a thing of beauty.  A picture is probably as close as I’ll ever get to one.  (sigh)

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Not so well known by me, though probably countless others are/were aware – that while Wall Street is held to the Securities and Exchange Commission regulations and oversight designed to curb improper trading, others are not.

Guess who is not held to account for what is essentially insider trading?

Congress.

Yes, your elected officials can schmooze with lobbyists, talk behind closed doors, have private meetings with industry leaders – and then turn around and sell off their stock just before bad news goes public.

I wasn’t oblivious to the practice, I just thought that it was illegal and there was no one set up in a position to enforce laws on th e matter.

According to that source (above), insider trading is:

  • “Violation of a duty (as in the duty of fidelity of an officer to his corporation and its shareholders); or
  • Misappropriation of information that belongs to a third person (as in the information about what’s going to appear in a print journal that is ascertained [found out] because the ascertainor is an employee of that journal or of a printing company contracting with that journal).”

And you say “Uh, so what? Isn’t that obvious?”  Well, not so fast when it concerns your representative who is really out for himself with that information he gleans as he gets paid by you to do his job…

… applying those two tests to Congress reveals an important legal truth. According to my source: “Congressfolk fit in neither category. They owe no duty of fidelity to anyone (possibly excepting their constituents) and all the information they ascertain is ascertained in pursuit of their Congressional functions with no strings attached.

In other words, since people in Congress don’t have a duty to a corporation and they are getting their insider information in performing their jobs as Congress people, they can use that information without restriction.  – Peter Cohan

So while your portfolio tanked like mine, across congress the average returns were well above the average elsewhere.

Senators make significant abnormal returns, some place around 1 percent above the market, 12 percent a year.  – Alan Ziobrowski

<snip>

It’s absolutely incredible, but the Securities and Exchange Act does not apply to members of Congress, congressional staff or even lobbyists.  – Craig Holman

Why even bring it up, you might ask.  Because in spite of possible unintended consequences, I’d like to suggest this idea that came to me while great deep and profound brain things were going on inside my head:

Upon entry into congress and for a period of two years after leaving congress, all congressmen and congresswomen would surrender their stock portfolios to be administered in a double-blind fashion such that they can only direct their investments in a totally transparent third-party-scrutinized fashion.

Cashing out could only be done after a 2 week waiting period.

Fairly safe to say that Congress isn’t going to vote itself off the money island.

There’s lots of sources of information out there, but do watch out for OpenSecrets.org, which according to the IRS was a funding source for The New Democrat Network.

Here’s a good source:  Stephen Bainbridge – Insider Trading by Congressmen

On his blog he also brought up two very interesting ideas – Is Obamacare a Done Deal? and Regulating Away Financial Crises. A third entry concerns risk-taking in business – Regulating Banker Pay.  Mainly, that the Fed is interesting in curbing risk-taking behavior in the business sector, which will put the brakes on the flow of money.

(My opinion) What the people who favor more regulation fail to recognize is that a lot of practices have evolved the way they did in order to maximize two things – attractiveness to investors and increased returns.  Stifle investment practices and you’ll negatively impact the economy.

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Giant wooden dinosaur skeletons – cool.

Making a pinhole camera out of an Altoids can – even cooler.  Of course a used condom packet could be made into a pinhole camera with enough black tape, but I like it.

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And now they’re transgendering a 9 year old.  That’s too young for the age of consent for a life-altering decision.  Sorry.

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If only it were this easy.

Congressional Repellant

Nope.  Guess we’re going to have to suffer.

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CockTails

click to embiggen - and it is big

Trying to do my part to solve world hunger.  Visualizing world peas will be harder.

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I did not know this classic was on DVD.  Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers.  Good to see they’re keeping quality films alive well past the normal shelf-life.

Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers

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Alan Colmes says we’re unpatriotic for not wanting to pay more taxes.  One of his silly arguments was that lots of European countries have higher taxes than us.

My response on the foxnews blog post where he dribbled his drivel was thusly:

Making the argument that European taxes are higher and thus validates our tax rate  is nonsensical.
This is akin to the argument that says “It is ok to beat your children!”…. “Why?”… “Well, because it could be worse… it could be like some countries that allow 8 year old girls to be married to 58 year old perverts.”
Pointing to an example that is worse than the topic at hand is not a valid argument.
Showing gratitude or patriotism have nothing to do with my willingness to pay higher taxes in the face of waste.

Another commenter had this to say in response to my comment:

Ihatehypocrisy says:

At last….common sense prevails!!! It will be interesting to see how many posters have valid counter arguments as opposed to snarky posts filled with name calling because they realize they don’t have a valid counter argument.

And Lemur King, other than your strange objection to him pointing out the tax rates for other industrialized nations, I am curious to know what valid dispute you have with the rest of the article.

His remark about common sense was in regards to Colme’s article, not my witty stuff.  Damn.  I do have to agree with that commenter on one thing – way too many comments were filled with hate and no rational counterpoints.

My dispute with the rest of Colme’s article comes under several headings.

One – Colme’s skirting the ragged edge of ad hominem… “bitter election losers, while clinging to their guns by buying them in greater numbers”   He’s got enough talent to not need to do that.  I do it because I’m a blogger and talk trash mostly out of the spotlight.  He’s bigger time than that.

Two – it ignores the 10th Amendment.  The government ought not be assuming so very many powers.  The government was set up so that we had support for commerce, military defense,  common currency, etc.  Congress has turned themselves into a body that is quite a bit more powerful than states are supposed to be.

Most power is supposed to reside in the states.  The flip side is that if the power is in the states, then the fed does not have the power to run so many federal-level offices.

Three – Federal taxation is wrong in that it turns the Federal to State tax ratio on end.  They should be swapped. If I pay the lion’s share of my taxes to my state I have control over where it goes because I and every other voter in my state know right where to find those who are doing what they are elected to do.    Move the money/taxes/power a distance away, remove access, and create a complex system (an elected aristocracy that the electorate cannot reach), and you will have pork-barrel policies and little way to influence anything.  I have no control whatsoever over anyone other than my personal representatives who will be stacked up agains representatives from entirely different states … the odds are quite high that any legislation is going to have very little to do with things that are important to me or get it right.  Face it… from Michigan, do I care if Arizona is awarded $3M to study shrimp farming?

Texas Gov. Perry told the crowd at Austin City Hall — one of three tea parties he was attending across the state — that officials in Washington have abandoned the country’s founding principles of limited government. He said the federal government is strangling Americans with taxation, spending and debt.

(source:  http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/APStories/stories/D97J48IO2.html)

Frankly, I don’t mind a 25% tax all that much – if I have some say over where it is going – in my state.  Why should my taxes go to help New Orleans, California Fires, and Flooding in the Midwest?    Texas Governor Perry has it right.

Colmes smirks:

Another argument we hear when there is talk of tax dollars being used for items like national health care, alternative energy development, or improving our public education system is that the government can’t do anything right, that it can’t run anything, that in every instance private is always better.

Social Security is the best argument for killing sweeping social programs – it can’t remain solvent and is being tapped for any and all purposes “deemed necessary” along the way.  National Healthcare is a pipe dream – a boondoggle of paperwork and red-tape  so unpersonalized and so abstract that it ceases to be about people anymore. Our public school systems are trashed  – get rid of bloated teacher’s unions and give merit-based pay.

The only place The Fed ought to be given total precedence over private is the military.  Private sector has no business being in the business of running mercenary companies.


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